Larry Griffith Project – Bonafide
Self-Release – 2019
9 tracks; 52 minutes
Larry Griffith has been based in Atlanta since 1990 and has produced a series of albums and EPs over the years. His latest Bonafide reflects a turbulent time in his personal life, a break-up and throat surgery. Larry wrote all the songs here and leads from the front on vocals and guitar, with Barry Richman (guitar), Rashaan Griffith (drums, keys), Dana McCarthy (bass), Michael Milsap (keys), Tom Regeski (sax) and Little Joey Hoegger (harmonica). 2Blu (Teresa Lynn and Deborah Carr) are on backing vocals and George Price (guitar), Ray Tanner (trumpet) and Steven Milsap (drums) appear on one track.
The album opens with the swampy “Hoodoo Hannah”, the jungle beat and harmonica fitting well with the theme. Larry has a good voice and it all works fine, but simply goes on too long, the track running close to eight minutes with lots of repetition. Indeed, brevity is not Larry’s thing as several tracks follow a similar pattern and would have been much better if shortened, “I Know” being another example (mind you, with a lyric like “I know that you know that I know” it is hard to vary things). One of the strongest tracks is “It Ain’t What They Call You” which encourages us to ignore name-calling and concentrate on doing the right thing, with excellent backing vocals from 2Blu, soulful sax and a nice guitar break. “Slow Grind” has music in a similar soul vein but some pretty explicit lyrics in which Larry brags about his sexual abilities – definitely not one for mainstream radio!
The break-up songs dominate the album. “I Do, I Did, I’m Done” is quite a bitter song as Larry sees his marital promises receding into the past as he now realizes the marriage is over. “Always Going To Be Something With You” recounts the difficulties in Larry’s relationship, “Had Enough” is a slower number with lyrics about the break-up with another good horn and strings arrangement and “I’m Free” represents Larry’s sense of freedom after the break-up. The last track on the album “Mama Tried” pays tribute to Larry’s mother in raising her family in difficult circumstances.
Some of the songs could have benefited from a little judicious editing as they stayed around a bit too long.
With a good singing voice, original songs and a real handle on the soulful side of the blues, Larry Griffith has all the attributes needed to succeed.